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Florida School Flooded With Calls About Scholarships

March 10, 1990

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) _ A small university that announced it had enough money to offer scholarships to black freshmen was flooded with calls from far more students than it can serve, school officials said Friday.

Florida Atlantic University officials said they were having trouble explaining to callers from across the country that they planned to expand the tuition aid program to just 45 spots in the fall, up from 30 last year.

″We got a mass of calls from people who said they are angry,″ said James Spear, executive assistant to Anthony Catanese, president of the state university.

A news report, which was carried by The Associated Press on Thursday, said all the black freshmen who met admission standards at FAU would be offered free tuition.

The report did not note the number of scholarships available, but in it officials spoke of expanding the program and seeking donations from the community if demand surpassed expectations.

Spear says the school probably could have met the goal of giving all black freshmen scholarships this fall, based on earlier numbers of black applications for scholarships.

But the 11,500-student school cannot take an endless line of applicants who might respond after their program got national notice, Spear said.

The $1,350 scholarship covers tuition and fees, but doesn’t pay for housing, books and other expenses.

Out-of-state students can apply, but Florida residents get preference under the program, which will be financed with school funds and private donations.

Based on the number of scholarships awarded last year, and the number of black freshmen expected, officials believed there was plenty of money so every every qualified black applicant to get a scholarship, Spear said.

″It’s almost a Catch-22,″ Spear said. ″We offered 30 Martin Luther King scholarships last year as a part of our overall scholarship programs. We had 28 (black freshmen) apply who met our admission standards.″

He said the school is doing the best it can to attract and hold the top high school graduates from south Florida.

Officials were shocked when they started getting calls from as far away as Denver and Toronto. Some callers wanted to apply, but others were angry.

″One caller said: ‘I’m black and my wife is white, does that mean we pay 50 percent?’ ″ Spear said.

On the bright side, Spear noted the attention could attract some bright students from outside the area.

Said the spokesman: ″We got a million-dollar PR campaign.″

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